As I say about all my family members: I may have to love you, but I don't always have to like you. But seriously, I do love you, mom!
  1. Love you:
    You've shown me what it's like to take care of the people in your life.
  2. Don't love you:
    Told me I'd be so gorgeous and so much happier and could snag any guy I wanted if I would just lose a few pounds.
  3. Love you:
    You have amazing taste and grace and have shown me and my siblings how to present ourselves and our creativity to the world.
  4. Don't love you:
    Told me that you were worried I was depressed because all I was doing was lying around when actually I had a kidney stone and was violently throwing up all weekend and couldn't keep food down.
  5. Love you:
    Introduced me to the joys of animals, from birds, horses, dogs, cats, chickens, bunnies—you name it!
  6. Don't love you:
    Put me on a diet as soon as I hit puberty.
  7. Love you:
    Emphasized the importance of being close with my siblings because friends may come and go, but siblings, especially sisters, are forever.
  8. Don't love you:
    Created a very difficult food relationship in our house. Drove me to secret binge-eating that still persists to this day, though I remind myself I don't have to hide a popcorn bag or candy wrapper anymore because I'm an adult and finally know how to eat nutritiously and take care of my body (and that means occasionally having "bad" food just because I love it).
  9. Love you:
    Shown me that even after years of taking care of other people and, perhaps, not having much of your own identity and education, you can still pursue your dreams and start a whole new chapter.
  10. Don't love you:
    You lay the weight of your life's regrets on us (why you couldn't go to college, why you stayed with our dad, etc.).
  11. Love you:
    Put your family before your own desires time and time again. From helping to raise your own siblings (as one of the older children out of 8), to starting your own family at 22 (and having your last child, a surprise, at 40!), to now finally turning your own focus and attention and love on yourself.
  12. Don't love you:
    You act like a martyr and like everything little thing you do is only for us, like decorating the house for Christmas, etc., when we would be happy to celebrate as a family with or without that stupid garland on the stair bannister.
  13. Love you:
    You are a beautiful, human, complicated soul. You have shown us love and amazing, beautiful things in this world. You have also shown us heartache and pain and difficult relationships. Without you, I certainly wouldn't be who I am today. I have you to thank for my compassion and empathy for all living creatures. And you to thank for my complicated and growing relationship with myself. Love you so much and I'm so happy that you're doing all the things you've always wanted to but put on hold.